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School Flexibility
5:03 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Panel Oks Bill To Give Ala. Schools Flexibility

An Alabama House panel has approved a bill to give local school systems the ability to waive certain regulations or requirements.

The Alabama House Education Policy Committee has approved a bill to give local school systems the ability to waive certain regulations or requirements.


The committee voted Wednesday afternoon in favor of the measure by Rep. Chad Fincher, R- Semmes.


Supporters, including state schools Superintendent Tommy Bice, told lawmakers that research has shown reducing rules and regulations can increase creativity in the classroom. Bice called the bill a vote of confidence in teachers and school leaders.

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Legalizing Medical Marijuana
4:56 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Ala. House Panel Votes 'No' On Medical Marijuana

A House Panel has defeated a bill that would have legalized the sale of medical marijuana.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

An Alabama House committee has defeated a bill that would have legalized the sale of medical marijuana.


The committee voted 12-2 against the bill by Democratic Rep, Patricia Todd of Birmingham.

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Governor - Education
4:46 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Gov. Bentley Ups School Funding, Level Funds Others

Governor Robert Bentley proposed budgets gives more to education and keep funding for other state agencies flat
Credit State of Alabama

Alabama's governor is proposing an education budget that gives small increases to all levels of education from kindergarten through college.


Gov. Robert Bentley unveiled his recommended budgets Wednesday. His education budget includes a 2.5 percent pay raise for public school employees and a substantial expansion of Alabama's pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds.

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Alabama Pre-K Program
5:52 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Alabama Legislator Back Governor's Pre-K Expansion

Senator Vivian Davis Figures supports an expansion of Alabama's Pre-K program.
AP Photo/Dave Martin

Republican and Democratic legislators say Gov. Robert Bentley's plan to expand Alabama's pre-kindergarten program has broad support and will be approved by the Legislature.


Bentley called for the expansion in his State of the State address Tuesday night. Senate Democratic leader Vivian Davis Figures said an expansion will provide a solid foundation for Alabama children.

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Alabama House Health Committee
5:43 am
Wed February 6, 2013

House Health Committee to Consider 2 Hot Issues

Rep. Patricia Todd is sponsoring legislation that would legalize marijuana for medical purposes in Alabama.
gaypolitics.com

The Alabama House's Health Committee is scheduled to consider two controversial issues as the 2013 session cranks up..

The committee will on Wednesday consider a bill by Democratic Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in Alabama. The bill is the first item on the House Health Committee agenda on the first committee meeting day during the 2013 regular session of the Alabama Legislature.


The Health Committee is scheduled to meet at the conclusion of the House session, probably about 9:30 a.m.

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Alabama Budgets
5:39 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Alabama Governor Says Budgets Improving Slightly

governor.alabama.gov

Gov. Robert Bentley says his proposed budgets for the new fiscal year are slightly better than this year's budgets.

Bentley told legislators in his State of the State address Tuesday night that Alabama's economy is improving and that's allowing him to recommend more education spending. His plan includes expanding Alabama's pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds and giving a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise to teachers. He did not recommend a raise for state employees.

Law Enforcement Consolidation
5:28 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Alabama Officials Compromise On Law Enforcement

Governor Robert Bentley and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh have reached an agreement on how to best consolidate state law enforcement.
Credit blog.al.com

Alabama's governor and a legislative leader have compromised on consolidating law enforcement programs.


Gov. Robert Bentley and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh had offered different plans to improve efficiency, but they announced an agreement on a bill Tuesday.

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Bus Driver Honored
5:18 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Alabama Senate Recognizes Slain Bus Driver

Slain bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr. was honored by the Alabama Senate to start the 2013 legislative session.
Credit Dothan Eagle

The Alabama Senate began its 2013 session by passing a resolution memorializing a school bus driver shot to death while trying to stop a kidnapping.


The senator representing Dale County, independent Harri Anne Smith of Slocomb, got the Senate to vote unanimously Tuesday for her resolution praising Dale County school bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr. for trying to stop a kidnapping on his bus last week. The kidnapper kept a 5-year-old boy in an underground bunker until Monday, when law enforcement officers killed him and rescued the boy.

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2013 Legislative Session
5:03 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

2013 Session Of Alabama Legislature Begins

The 2013 legislative session is underway.
Credit Trance Mist / Flickr

The Alabama Legislature's 2013 regular session has started.


Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey started the session in the Senate at noon. Speaker Mike Hubbard gaveled the House into session at 12:10 p.m.


The session will last until mid-May. Lawmakers must complete the session in 30 meeting days during 105 calendar days.


Major issue facing lawmakers will be balancing the General Fund and education budgets in a year when funds are expected to be tight.

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2013 Legislative Session
10:33 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Expert: Alabama to See More Money for Education

The Legislature's top financial expert is forecasting lawmakers will have more money to appropriate for education programs, but less for other state operations.

The director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, Norris Green, gave legislators a forecast Tuesday showing that revenue for the education budget should grow by $238 million in the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1. That means the budget could grow from $5.55 billion this fiscal year to $5.79 billion in the new year.

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Montgomery Grade Scandal
10:10 am
Tue February 5, 2013

4 Workers to be Reinstated in Grade-Changing Case

School System Attorney Spud Seale.
montgomerylawyers.com

Montgomery school officials say four of the seven Montgomery Public Schools employees placed on paid administrative leave during an investigation into improper grade changing will be reinstated.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports (http://on.mgmadv.com/11PrgPY) that three employees were cleared of all wrongdoing, and a fourth was found to have only followed the directions of a supervisor.

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Midland City Standoff
6:46 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Authorities: Captor Shot and Boy Freed Safely From Six-Day Hostage Ordeal in Underground Bunker

After seven days spent hostage in Jimmy Lee Dykes' underground bunker in Midland City, 5-year-old Ethan is free.
Joe Songer/jsonger@al.com

Officials say law enforcement officers stormed an underground bunker in southeastern Alabama, freeing a 5-year-old boy and shooting his captor to death after they became convinced the child was in imminent danger.


Authorities said 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes had taken the child off a school bus after fatally shooting the driver on Jan 29. Dykes had remained holed up in the bunker with the child.


Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said late Monday that Dykes was armed when officers entered the bunker to rescue the child.

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2013 Legislative Session
6:37 am
Tue February 5, 2013

3 Ala. Lawmakers Support Religious Freedom Bill

A crew prepares the Ten Commandments monument for movement from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2003. Roy Moore fought attempts to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Bu
Mobile Register file/Mike Kittrell

A handful of Republican Alabama lawmakers are pushing a bill to make it legal to display the Ten Commandments in any public building in the state.


WAFF-TV reports a pre-filed bill sponsored by Republican state Sen. Gerald Dial and has gained support from Sen. Shadrack McGill and Sen. Clay Scofield.


Dial says the bill — titled the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment — could act as a safeguard for constituents who have expressed concerns over being sued for displaying the Ten Commandments in public places.

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2013 Legislative Session
6:31 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Alabama Legislators to Get Financial Forecasts

Alabama finance officials will give lawmakers an overview of the state's financial situation before the start of the 2013 legislative session.
montgomeryalrealestate.org

Alabama legislators will get an overview of the state's financial situation before they begin their 2013 legislative session at noon.

The director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, Norris Green, and the state finance director, Marquita Davis, are scheduled to address legislators at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Capitol. The financial overview is the traditional kickoff for each year's session.

Midland City Standoff
5:16 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

The Week-long Midland City Hostage Situation Has Ended

Reporters await the announcement that the Midland City hostage situation has ended.
Credit Dothan Eagle

The week-long hostage ordeal of a 5-year-old Alabama boy is over. Officials say the man who killed a bus driver and took the boy from a school bus last Tuesday is dead.  The drama played out in an underground bunker where retired truck driver Jim Dykes had held the boy.


Authorities say a decision was made to storm the bunker because the child was in imminent danger.


Steve Richardson with the FBI's office in Mobile said at a news conference Monday afternoon that negotiations deteriorated and that 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes had been seen with a gun.

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